Because they are private schools, voucher schools have limited public accountability and operate under different rules than public schools. For instance, voucher schools do not have to follow the state’s open meetings and records law. They do not have to provide information on staff qualifications, student suspensions and expulsions, graduation rates, and so forth to the public. Their meetings are not open to the public.
As private schools, voucher schools do not have to honor constitutional rights of due process when students are suspended or expelled. Nor do private voucher schools have to follow Wisconsin law that prohibits discrimination against students in a range of areas including, sex, pregnancy, marital or parental status, or sexual orientation. Voucher schools, however, must follow federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.
There are seven schools chartered by the City of Milwaukee and 11 schools chartered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The schools enrolled a total of approximately 6,500 students in 2011-12. Information on the UWM charter schools can be found on the webpage of the Office of Charter Schools at UWM. Links on the website provide data such as the name of a particular charter school, its address, when it was chartered, and its email and school website. Detailed data on special education students, racial makeup, curricular offerings and so forth is not easily accessible via the website. A 62-page annual report from 2009-10 is available through the website. The report does not indicate who appoints the staff and leadership overseeing the Office of Charter Schools, nor when and if the office holds meetings open to the public.
The only data available on the City of Milwaukee website specifically regarding charter schools is a phone number where one can get an application to become a charter school. The charter schools are overseen by a “Charter School Review Committee” appointed by city officials. Meetings and decisions by the committee are not available on the City of Milwaukee website, nor is it clear where one can attain such information. (The city has made some recent changes to provide more of this information to the public).